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Regulatory Fog: The Informational Origins of Regulatory Persistence

  • Patrick Warren
  • Tom Wilkening

Compared with other types of policy, regulation is very persistent, even when inefficient. We propose an explanation for regulatory persistence based on regulatory fog,the phenomenon by which regulation obscures information about the e ects of deregulation. We construct a dynamic model of regulation in which the underlying need for regulation varies stochastically, and regulation undermines the regulator's ability to observe the state of the world. Compared to the full-information benchmark, regulation is highly persistent, often lasting inde nitely. The regulatory fog e ect is robust to a broad range of partially informative policies and can be quite detrimental to social welfare.

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File URL: http://fbe.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/801020/1113.pdf
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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1113.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1113
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 5355
Fax: +61 3 8344 6899
Web page: http://www.economics.unimelb.edu.auEmail:


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  1. Nancy L. Rose, 1985. "The Incidence of Regulatory Rents in the Motor Carrier Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(3), pages 299-318, Autumn.
  2. Giuseppe Moscarin & Marco Ottaviani & Lones Smith, . "Social Learning in a Changing World," ELSE working papers 010, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  3. Pindyck, Robert S., 1998. "Irreversibilities and the timing of environmental policy," Working papers WP 4047-98., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Kenneth D. Boyer, 1987. "The Costs of Price Regulation: Lessons from Railroad Deregulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(3), pages 408-416, Autumn.
  5. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Valimaki, 2006. "Bandit Problems," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1551, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Robert N. Rubinovitz, 1993. "Market Power and Price Increases for Basic Cable Service Since Deregulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 1-18, Spring.
  7. Zhao, Jinhua & Kling, Catherine L., 2003. "Policy persistence in environmental regulation," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 255-268, August.
  8. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
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